GEORGE TOWN, August 20 – The Penang State Assembly should have a special meeting at the earliest possible date after September, to amend and align the State Constitution with the Federal Constitution after the Royal Assent and gazette of the constitutional amendment banning party hopping by MPs is expected to be completed in September. This would allow the anti-hopping provision to take effect in time for state seats in Penang when the general election is held.

De facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said two days ago that the targeted timeline of September for the Constitution (Amendment) (No.3) Bill prohibiting MPs from switching parties will be followed for royal assent and its gazette for implementation. Wan Junaidi added that once the royal assent is received, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will issue a notification letter to all menteri besar and chief ministers to inform the states of the amendments to the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

This will allow all state legislative assemblies to amend their state constitutions by including the provisions prohibiting elected leaders from switching parties, to be in line with the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution as approved in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara. The Dewan Rakyat on July 28 and the Senate on 9 August passed the proposed anti-party hopping bill with more than a two-thirds majority.

DAP agrees with Wan Junaidi that all states must follow the Federal Constitution’s format accordingly so that the federal and state laws are the same. Should such an amendment be proposed for the Penang state constitution, all State Assemblymen are expected to pass the amendments unanimously with more than a 2/3 majority.

Such anti-hopping laws in place for both the Federal Parliament and State Assembly seats would generate confidence of a higher turnout amongst voters. Voters need no longer fear of a repeat betrayal of the people’s mandate as occurred in the infamous Sheraton Move, and that the people’s vote will be honoured and respected.